Religion and Politics

When I was younger I was told to never discuss religion and politics in polite company. I understand and agree with that sentiment. I fear some of my brothers and sisters have departed the realm of polite company.

This post is addressed to the church. If you’re not a Christian I am not addressing you. In this post I would like to help my brothers and sisters in Christ understand the impact of their words, spoken and written. If you agree with the tweet pictured above I would like for you to imagine reading the following or hearing it in a sermon:

<Offense>

“Have you repented of voting for Hillary Clinton? She’s a sinner! She advocates expanding abortion on demand which destroys human flourishing by killing the unborn and emotionally devastating the mother of the unborn. Clinton was under an active investigation days before the election – she is morally corrupt. So I ask again: Have you repented for your vote for such a person as this?”

</Offense>

“Why Would You Write Such a Thing, Andy?”

At the time of this writing, I’ve been hearing this message for almost 11 months. The target of the discussion hasn’t been Hillary Clinton; it’s been President Trump.

What’s Right With This Sentiment?

President Donald J. Trump is a sinner. As am I. As are you. Romans 3:23 tells us plainly:

…for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God,…

Hillary Clinton is a sinner. Former President Obama is a sinner.

What is the end of sin? What does sin do for us?

Romans 6:23 tells us sin ends in death. James 1:14-15 tells us:

But each person is tempted when he is lured and enticed by his own desire. Then desire when it has conceived gives birth to sin, and sin when it is fully grown brings forth death.

Sin leads to death. We all sin, we do so when we are led by our desires instead of surrendering to Christ by denying ourselves, taking up our cross daily, and following Him (Luke 9:23). When we sin we have an Advocate with the Father – none other than Jesus Christ, our Lord.

If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. – 1 John 1:9

What’s Wrong With This Sentiment?

We, the bride of Christ, the church, are commanded to deny ourselves, take up our cross, and follow Jesus.

“If anyone would come after me…” – Jesus

What does “denying ourselves” look like when it comes to living during the presidential administration of a president with whom we disagree on almost every issue? Does denying ourselves mean we have to agree with a president we do not prefer? Does denying ourselves mean we have to support policies we find abhorrent? Does denying ourselves mean we need to be “polite company” and be silent about dissent?

I believe not.

Should we judge one president (or former presidential candidate) as “righteous” and another as “unrighteous?” Do we have that authority? Do we have that right? I ask as a Christian and an American citizen – what say you, church?

Should We Condemn Those We Don’t Like?

How then ought we to live when an administration with which we disagree is in office? Should we agree with the world? Should we judge our brothers and sisters who voted for President Trump, tell them they should repent, and ask, “What about them?

I write these words because I wrote these other words: “I was a Jerk and I am Sorry.

Church, Stop.

Church, I’m calling you out. Humbly, seeking restoration and reconciliation, in the same spirit of Galatians 2:11-14, I’m asking you to cut it out. Repent. Be salt and light. Get back your saltiness. Remove this political-preference basket covering your light.

Stop agreeing with the world. Cease and desist calling your brothers and sisters “uneducated” and thereby committing the sin of showing partiality described in James 2:1-13.

Trump-Sins

For eight years (2009-2016) you preached tolerance and respect for the office of President of the United States. What has changed? Has God changed? Has God’s Word changed? Or have you changed? Is God’s Word different because you are offended?

I see us behaving poorly, church (like I behaved poorly). I see us tearing ourselves apart.

And I weep.

We have invented a new class of sins: Trump-sins. When the Supreme Court discovered a right to homosexual marriage in the Constitution of the United States we preached that homosexuality was a sin but not a special sin. “We’re all sinners,” we said. “We all need Christ,” we called. “Love the sinner, hate the sin,” we preached. But racism? That’s a special and intolerable sin. It’s a Trump-sin. When’s the last time you heard a sermon on “Love the racist, hate the racism”? I’m going to guess never.

Racism is a particularly heinous sin. I wrote about racism in a post titled Tread With Care, Church. The sin of racism is an ugly, hate-filled sin that has no place in the Body of Christ.

The sin of judging our brothers and sisters who voted for President Trump is an ugly, hate-filled sin that has no place in the Body of Christ.

Should we oppose racism? Yes, vehemently.
Should we oppose abortion on demand? Yes, vehemently.
Should we preach the truth of the Gospel to every creature? Yes!
Should we let our preferences – personal and political – dictate the Gospel we preach? Absolutely not.

We should instead deny ourselves.

Unity?

In 1 Corinthians 12:12-31 Paul was inspired by the Holy Spirit to write these words to the church at Corinth:

For just as the body is one and has many members, and all the members of the body, though many, are one body, so it is with Christ. For in one Spirit we were all baptized into one body—Jews or Greeks, slaves or free—and all were made to drink of one Spirit.

For the body does not consist of one member but of many. If the foot should say, “Because I am not a hand, I do not belong to the body,” that would not make it any less a part of the body. And if the ear should say, “Because I am not an eye, I do not belong to the body,” that would not make it any less a part of the body. If the whole body were an eye, where would be the sense of hearing? If the whole body were an ear, where would be the sense of smell? But as it is, God arranged the members in the body, each one of them, as he chose. If all were a single member, where would the body be? As it is, there are many parts, yet one body.

The eye cannot say to the hand, “I have no need of you,” nor again the head to the feet, “I have no need of you.” On the contrary, the parts of the body that seem to be weaker are indispensable, and on those parts of the body that we think less honorable we bestow the greater honor, and our unpresentable parts are treated with greater modesty, which our more presentable parts do not require. But God has so composed the body, giving greater honor to the part that lacked it, that there may be no division in the body, but that the members may have the same care for one another. If one member suffers, all suffer together; if one member is honored, all rejoice together.

Now you are the body of Christ and individually members of it. And God has appointed in the church first apostles, second prophets, third teachers, then miracles, then gifts of healing, helping, administrating, and various kinds of tongues. Are all apostles? Are all prophets? Are all teachers? Do all work miracles? Do all possess gifts of healing? Do all speak with tongues? Do all interpret? But earnestly desire the higher gifts.

And I will show you a still more excellent way.

Unity is not uniformity. In fact, the Holy Spirit goes to great lengths here to describe just how different each member is from other members. And yet we are told “God has so composed the body, giving greater honor to the part that lacked it, that there may be no division in the body, but that the members may have the same care for one another.” (emphasis added)

Brothers and sisters, we are not going to feel the same way about political candidates and issues. It’s just not going to happen. And our disagreement is by design: “If all were a single member, where would the body be? As it is, there are many parts, yet one body.” (emphasis added)

How did this happen? Who lumped together all these people who disagree? “God arranged the members in the body, each one of them, as he chose.” (emphasis added)

What, Then, Does Unity Mean?

Clearly, unity doesn’t mean uniformity in beliefs, passions, gifts, and preferences: “Are all apostles? Are all prophets? Are all teachers? Do all work miracles? Do all possess gifts of healing? Do all speak with tongues? Do all interpret?” (emphasis added) Let’s face it, the Holy Spirit beats this horse a lot. Why? We need to hear it.

We need to live it.

We are to love one another, bear one another’s burdens, even.

Reconcile

Reconciliation needs to begin with us, church. We need to reconcile with our brothers and sisters.
We need to reconcile with our brothers and sisters who voted for the other candidate.
We need to reconcile with our brothers and sisters who are members of a different race.

We need to reconcile ourselves first so that we remove the plank from our own eye. Everyone, on all sides, needs to repent – to uncover the light and be salty again. Then we can see clearly to remove splinters from the eyes of the world who are watching us. How important is loving one another? This is how we show the world we are His disciples:

In Closing: Repent, Church

The word “repent” means to turn around and go the other way. Brothers and sisters – conservatives and progressives, Democrats and Republicans – I urge us all to repent, obey the Gospel, deny ourselves, love our enemies, love one another, reconcile ourselves, and thus communicate the message of reconciliation as ambassadors for Christ to the world.

Peace.